I thought Level 2 was the hardest. Reason: material was so boring
> I thought Level 2 was the hardest. Reason:
> material was so boring
Depends on the candidate. For quant-leaning folks with intermediate course in accounting, Level 2 may be the easiest. I would say Level 3 is the toughest.
Your right. I thought level 3 was the easiest which is why i’ll be taking it again next june.
L3 is the hardest.
I passed L1 in Dec 03 and L2 in Jun 04. I knew that L3 was going to be a bear and put in probably 400 hours…yet I failed. You make decisions and my decisions were based upon how I passed L1 and L2. I used Schweser. During the PM session of L3 in 2005, I looked up and felt like I had been hit by a 2x4. I have never felt so bad. How could I fail a test that I was 100% prepared for? I knew that it would be difficult and I was prepared.
20 minutes after receiving my results, I signed up for Jun 2006. I had to change everything. I didn’t know how I could study any harder. I just had to study differently. I had to fight complacency. I didn’t want to wait until April to get started. I needed structure
1. I signed up for a weekly analyst class in San Francisco starting in January. I knew that I probably wouldn’t learn too much from this class, yet it would provide structure. I vowed to read both the schweser guides and CFAI textbooks before each class. I was going to get as much out of this class as possible.
2. I repurchased schweser. Schweser is great for the LOS, yet sucks with questions. I would also read the CFAI texts and do all the problems in the CFAI texts.
3. I also took the schweser course. The course is a great way to tie things together.
4. Get done with schweser by May. Do the old AM tests over and over and over until you know the tricks. The key to the AM is getting through the first question quickly. Do tests and study one schweser guide per day.
I passed in Jun 06. Then again. 76% passed, so what do I know.
Haven’t taken L3 yet but from the guys in my office that have completed it they all say L2 was the hardest. Obviously L3 isn’t a cakewalk, but as others have mentioned above, the L3 material seems more interesting and relevant so not as bad to study.
None of the guys I’ve spoken to have taken it in the last four years though, so maybe it’s changed.
I thought LII was the hardest.
I also thought LIII material was more relevant to my work experience and it just sunk in more. Wasn’t easy though…
I also thought LI was pretty damn hard also, didn’t really know what to expect.
I have to say level 2 is the hardest because the material was so detailed, technical, and boring. I kind of felt it was luck of the draw with what they asked. At least with Level III, you knew some key questions they were going to ask like IPS.
I would rank them 3,2,1. Level II was difficult due to the sheer volume of information that was covered but it was plug and chug for the most part. I agree that LIII was more interesting but for some of the am questions there is no clear cut answer. The LIII material was the most interesting mostly because there was no FSA.
My two cents..
Treat L3 as a more serious exam than L2 - that’s how I passed.
If you’re asking which exam is easier or harder, you’re looking for someone to tell you that you can relax a bit with L3.. sorry, no easy way out for this one.
Work AT LEAST as hard as you did for L2 and practice the essays, repetition is key. Also, don’t do what I did by not spending enough time on Ethics.. could’ve easily gotten myself a fail that way.
You are one step away from those letters after your name, now is the time to step up and get it done for good.
I think it’s really an individual case by case basis. For me I think level 3 will be easier to “study” for only because I am not a security analyst, or do anything related to diving into the financial statments/accounting regularly. So for me, L2 should be the toughest since there was alot of accounting.
L3 doesn’t have accounting right? If not, I think I’ll have an easier time studying it…taking the exam is a different story I guess, ha.
After a few weeks of studying I thought L3 was much easier than L2. And the material really is easier, but the exam is harder.
Mr. Rasmussen, CFA
321. but LIII was very interesting for me, and challenging as i studied the least out of all levels (approx 200 hrs). according to my results, i barely made it…
L II is the hardest. L III is much easier to study for, the material is more intuitive and that’s why people who fail have almost passed. Most people fail with bands 8 and 9. Because it is easier I think the threshold is set much higher and you must be more accurate and attentive to details in essay portion.
^ -1. Explain to me how most people fail with bands 8 and 9 when it is a relative metric.
3 2 1
Level 3 is a different exam not to be underestimated. The afternoon appears easier because you prepare much more rigorously getting ready for the AM. You have to go into the AM being able to spit out list after list, while at the same time knowing how to interpret information and then make a decision based on readings which are filled with landmines.
Going from open ended questions to multiple choice questions are the equivalent climbing half-way up a mountain without a harness, and then taking an elevator the rest of the way to the top. You know the buttons when you see them, you just have to push the right one….not that bad.
LII seems to be the hardest, but since its all MC, you get to stab at ones you don’t know.
LIII needs people to write accurate and targeted responses, not a task many people find easy. the different formatting makes it difficult
My bad. You are right. What I tried to say is most people who thought that they had passed (or at least the ones I know) failed with band 8 and 9. The difference between the scores of those who passed and those who didn’t is minuscule. In fact, I think the score difference between all bands is tiny. There was a case on my floor with two guys who had the exact same scores with the only difference that one had below 50 in one question in the AM and the other had below 50 in a different one (with about the same points assigned to the questions). One passed, one failed. My thought is it is much easier to study for LIII and the exam itself is easier. In general, most people do well. But because of this, CFA institute puts approximately a 50% fail ratio, and the splits between bands are so so narrow.
Hope it explains my thinking.
How about this to determine the hardest level: What is the average number of attempts current charterholders took at each level? The highest wins.
I don’t suppose that information is in the public sphere. Anybody care to speculate?
IMO L3 was the hardest level to pass, as mentioned- due to the format of the exam.
The actual curriculum may not have been as difficult, but it required a much stronger understanding of the material.
How about people coming from non-finance background but have IM work experience, which level was the most difficult? Why?
The exams are not easy, but in terms of difficulty I rank Level 2 hardest and L1 and L3 behind L2. In contrast to many posts on this forum, I think L3 was the most doable of the 3. Perhaps I am just a better CFA exam test taker now than when I started, but I also do a lot of work covered in L3.
I am speculating majority of chartholders have failed at least one exams along the way (most likely fail in L2 due to the big gap in difficulty from L1 to L2).
For non-finance background, I would say L2 is probably hardest (more materials, more complex, more memory retention needed). But I am starting to suspect, L3 is going to be the hardest to most people as it is effectively two exams roll into one (essay + vignette).
The good news is, you can take your time on the L3 preparation because once you get passed L2, you passed the 50% completion mark and the thought of dropping out of the CFA program should have diminished significantly. I wouldn’t attempted the L3 exam until I feel confident enough though.
> Most people fail with bands 8 and 9.
ummm…. band 10 means top 10% among those who failed, band 9 means the next 10% among those who failed, etc., so what you’re saying is just incorrect.
Edit: I read the second response you wrote. I take back what I wrote then
At the risk of sounding like a punk, I will present this theory based on my observations of people I know who have CFA charters:
1. L2 is the hardest for people who are actually smart
2. L3 is the hardest for people who just work hard
It just seems like L2 material is really easy - it’s just tedious to learn. It does, however, mean that anyone who spends enough time studying can regurgitate enough correct answers to pass.
From what I have heard of L3, it is conceptually harder, but is less tedious than L2. Furthermore, it is a written test, so it requires a non-superficial understanding of the material. Because of this, people with greater ability to understand complicated concepts are more likely to pass L3.
I’m just thinking out loud here. Of course, I might be completely wrong.
Level II was the most difficult and the most material. No way to get through that one but brute force - read, practice questions, memorize, and practice exams. Statistics, for me, was brutal on level II.
Level III was alot easier, IMO, however make sure you do as many practice exams as you can. It is truly the only way to get a grip on how to answer the portfolio management questions. I still don’t understand why I was answering q’s the way I did, except that it was how other similar questions were answered.
L3 wasn’t that hard –> I do work for a PM and AM so I have experience in the area plus I majored in financial planning and minored in psychology which helped for pretty much all of it.
L1 was a cinch –> graduated with a bba and had seen 90% of the content before, except for the intense accounting stuff.
L2 was by far the toughest b/c the derivatives and valuation stuff was mostly new, even for those who had taken classes titled “Options, Futures, and Swaps” and “Valuation”
I put in twice the # of hours to get a worse grade for LII than I did for LI and LIII.
Don’t let everyone convince you that the morning essay section is difficult. You may feel unconfident because you’re unsure you got 100%, but the morning is what separates those who actually know the content and those who stuck to Schweser and Schweser alone.
Hello Mister Walrus Wrote:
> At the risk of sounding like a punk, I will
> present this theory based on my observations of
> people I know who have CFA charters:
> 1. L2 is the hardest for people who are actually
> 2. L3 is the hardest for people who just work
> It just seems like L2 material is really easy -
> it’s just tedious to learn. It does, however, mean
> that anyone who spends enough time studying can
> regurgitate enough correct answers to pass.
> From what I have heard of L3, it is conceptually
> harder, but is less tedious than L2. Furthermore,
> it is a written test, so it requires a
> non-superficial understanding of the material.
> Because of this, people with greater ability to
> understand complicated concepts are more likely to
> pass L3.
> I’m just thinking out loud here. Of course, I
> might be completely wrong.
This is backwards.. L2 has complex valuation formulas, advanced accounting concepts, and fairly intense quantitative areas, in which case if you get the formulas, and understand conceptually what is going on, and why things are they way they are, it will be easier and you can devote far less time on those topics..
L3 is much easier conceptually (There was virtually nothing I was scratching my head over). Further, there is a lot of subjectivity particularly in the IPS sections, where no matter how smart you may be, you may have a difficult time characterizing a scenario as simply ‘average’, ‘above average’ or ‘below average’.
Every level has different challenges. Fact - 49% pass rate for level IIII people who really want to pass shows how tough that level is. Enuf said. The lowest pass rate ever for what I thought was a reasonable exam. Frightening. I thought I creamed it but I didn’t =- I just passed. Thak God - my wife and kids made it all worthwhile and are still more pleased than me.
I sort of agree with this assessment and wanted to expand on it a bit. By way of background - I passed L1 in Dec ‘07, L2 in June ‘08 and L3 a few months ago. I also have an MBA so I’d seed a lot of the L1 and some of the L2 material in various finance and invesment classes before. I also have an undergrad degree in history.
Level 2 definitely is more about learning formula after formula, while L3 has the morning session which requires synthesis and interpretation. I would contend that L3 is a bit easier for people who are comfortable with and good at writing (in English), and less so for those with more quantative backgrounds - math majors, engineers, IT folks etc. Again, just a theory, but I found my liberal arts and writing background to be extremly helpful for the L3 morning session which some others found a real barrier to passing this test.
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